Physical activity improves mental health

Soledad Lee
Business Manager

oliver doyle_athlete lee
Senior Oliver Doyle fights an opponent for possession of the ball in the second District game against Lutheran South High School on Nov. 1, 2022. The Statesmen won with a score of 7-0.Photo by Hadley Hoskins

Some students search to stay physically active during the school year. Seeing different ways they stay active and how this affects their daily lives is important.

One thing to consider is students’ and teachers’ mental health, which aligns with something like physical activity.

“I try to exercise daily before school. You know coaching basketball, you’re still pretty active; you’re up and moving. According to my Fitbit I can get 10,000 steps in a game,” math teacher Justin Mathes said.

“Regular physical activity can help adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing heart conditions like heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

De Smet High School junior Quinn Gaffney notices that staying physically active throughout the year is beneficial to his mental health.

¨Oh my gosh, it’s (physical activity) the singlehanded most amazing tool in my arsenal, that I have to deal with any mental issue I’m going through right now at the moment. Like anytime I’m sad or angry, I can direct that energy into something good, like working out or playing a hockey game,¨ Gaffney said.

Senior Oliver Doyle stays active playing soccer in the fall. In the winter, Doyle works out after school and in the spring he plays club soccer and runs track.

During the year, Doyle’s mental health is affected by being active.

“I think it makes me less stressed and happier because I’ve gotten out some of my energy,” Doyle said.

“Then I workout pretty much all year round, yeah at the WG Rec Center. I workout pretty much… During my peak I’ll workout three-four days a week, cycling pretty much all body groups,” Gaffney said.

The Webster Groves Recreation Center is a place with a fitness center which some students use to workout.

“I stay active when my sports aren’t in season by going to the gym,” junior Lauryn Riefle said.

Students are also provided with the opportunity and are required to take Physical Education electives. Those include Physical Education, Weight Training, Kinetic Wellness and Lifetime Fitness.

¨Well, I take weight training as an elective class, and I also workout on my own time,¨ junior Joe Callas said.

Women’s basketball coach Annie Lybarger makes sure to get all her working out done in the morning, planning workouts ahead.

Gaffney reflected how doing different sports or activities throughout the year keeps everything balanced.

¨Late spring I’ll do inline hockey, and I also climb throughout the year. It kind of balances out the cardio of hockey with more of a dynamic movement, power, sport,¨ Gaffney said.

¨I definitely think it’s nice to take a break from school sometimes and get out and do sports, and then it just kind of refreshes your brain,¨ junior Shea Goggin said.


Soledad Lee – Business Manager

This will be Soledad Lee’s first year on ECHO Staff. She also made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.

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